The $10 Piece of Equipment That Provides Endless Workouts to Do With Kids

published Jun 5, 2021
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mother and daughter jumping rope
Credit: Shutterstock

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Over this past year, parents really flexed their multi-tasking muscles. Before, we juggled the requirements of caretaking, school, professions, and self-care. But then, we needed to do it simultaneously. And exercise was no exception.

For me, finding time for fitness always boosted my mood and helped me carve out moments for myself. But as someone with a chronic condition, it was also always important to keep my body and spirit strong. I needed a routine that didn’t require a lot of time and didn’t require me to leave my children to their own devices for too long. And I found the answer in my daughter’s P.E. bag: the almighty jump rope.

The benefits of jumping rope run the spectrum from building bone density, burning of calories in a short amount of time, strengthening the heart and lungs, and requiring little cost or space for equipment.

For your first purchase, look for a rope that offers a soft grip, tangle-free design, and adjustable length. This brightly-colored, beaded rope not only gives off nostalgic PE vibes, but it can be used by kids and adults alike. Meaning: one purchase works for the whole family. If you want a more simple, eco design, look for cloth ropes, like this one from Green Toys. And for an adults-only, fitness model, start with non-weighted options like the ones by GoxRunx or XYLsports. Whatever rope you chose, remember to supervise use with young children.

Then, once you exceed a beginner level bounce, you can upgrade your rope to one that spins faster or comes weighted for extra arm and shoulder sculpting. The internet offers tons of varied (and often, free!) workout series that fit into any day — whether you have 5 minutes to spare or 30. And best of all, jumping rope easily translates to a family activity. 

Even as opportunities for alone time return, I plan to stick with the skipping.

Here are my ideas for jump rope exercises you can do with the kids:

Create a family dance party.

At the end of the day, my kids often need to get out the wiggles, which used to mean pre-bedtime meltdowns. But then, we introduced post-jammies dance parties, which changed the routine completely. So if you also close out your evening by busting out moves, don’t forget about your jump rope. Have each member of your crew pick a couple favorite songs to make a “shake, rattle, and rope” playlist. And while your loved ones bop to the music, you can bounce along.

Build a weekend course.

If you want a fuller workout or have older kids, have them create a 5-10 station circuit with challenges the whole family must complete. Keep the jump rope at one station and then engage other muscle groups with wall sits, planks, jumping jacks, running in place, and even a few silly moves too, like crab walking or wiggling through tubes — giggles burn calories, too! Then have each family member start at a separate station, do the movement for 30 seconds to a minute each, and rotate.

Let the kids be your personal trainer.

Kids love to be in charge. So pass over the responsibility and the whistle, and let them lead you in your workout. Have them play a version of “Simon Says,” “Red Light Green Light,” or “Musical Chairs,” and give them all the power to stop, start, and change up your moves. 

Break out the Twister board.

This take on jumping rope requires a little extra set-up, but it’s worth it. Take a Twister board (or make one yourself) and re-label the different sections with varied jump rope exercises like jumping on left foot only, jumping while rotating, or any of these other ideas. Then, have your family members take turns spinning the arrow every 30 seconds. Use a timer for a finite amount of jumping, if you’re hoping to clock a specific number of minutes. Or play by Twister rules, and keep going until you collapse. 

Let your kids time you!

Turn your workout into a learning moment for your littlest ones. Often, as you start jumping rope, you’ll want to build up to longer sessions, starting first with smaller, 10 or 20 rotation intervals. So during that time, your child can practice counting along with you. Or even count in a new language. You can sing the ABCs or days of the week. Or simply jam out to all-time favorites, like “Wheels on the Bus” or “Old McDonald.”